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Si Phan Don

4,000 Islands in Champasak

Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands) is an archipelago containing several islands of varying shapes and sizes (some are often submerged during the monsoon season) in the Mekong River. The southern islands of Don Dhet and Don Khon are the most visited, while the rest are uninhabited due to their minute size. 

Both islands are close to the Cambodian border – the closest Lao cities to Si Phan Don are Champasak and Pakse, both of which offer buses and vans to the archipelago. You can also use the islands to enter Cambodia via Voen Kham, as long as you have a valid visa. 

Getting to Si Phan Don also depends on the season. The best time to visit the islands are from November to January, when the weather is dry but cool to enjoy biking and walking in the town areas, as well as swimming in the Mekong. March through to May brings scorching temperatures, while the monsoon rains cause floods between June and October.

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Don Dhet and Don Khong offer basic accommodation with running water and electricity, but both islands don’t have ATMs so it’s a good idea to carry some cash with you. The waters are home to the illusive Irrawaddy dolphin and provide plenty of fish to the local villagers. The dolphins usually make an appearance at the south of the Don Khong from December until May.

Don Dhet is popular among backpackers, with the northwest area dotted with reggae bars and western-style restaurants. Don Khong’s many guesthouses and restaurants concentrated around a bridge that leads to Don Det. 

Rent a bicycles (10,000 kip) if you want to explore Don Khong – expect waterfalls, secluded beaches, rice fields, rural villages, and temples. There are also a few villas dating back to the French colonial era and a market which gets busy in the early evening. 

Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands) in Champasak

  • Location: Mekong River, Champasak Province, Laos
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